Economic Outlook from Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
The U.S. added 227,000 nonfarm jobs in February 2012. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent for February 2012. Between February 2011 and February 2012, U.S. total nonfarm employment increased 1.5 percent.
Texas total nonfarm employment increased by 67,200 jobs during January 2012. Between January 2011 and January 2012, Texas total nonfarm employment increased 2.5 percent.
The Texas unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent for January 2012, down from 7.4 percent in December 2011.
The Texas unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for 61 consecutive months.
Consumer Confidence Index
The U.S. consumer confidence index increased by 15 percent from January 2012 to February 2012, rising from 61.5 to 70.8. The confidence index now stands 2 percent lower than one year ago.
The Texas region’s consumer confidence index decreased 4 percent from January 2012 to February 2012, falling from 89.9 to 86.7 and is now up 7 percent from its level one year ago.
Oil and Natural Gas
Oil and natural gas production tax collections in the first five months of fiscal 2012 were 63 percent higher than during the same period in 2011.
After reaching a record high closing price of $145.29 in July 2008 then falling to a low of $33.98 during February 2009, crude oil futures reached a settle price of $105.11 on March 15, 2012.
Natural gas futures prices have followed a similar path reaching a summer 2008 high of $13.58 then falling to a low of $2.51 in September 2009. Subsequently, the price rebounded through the end of 2009 but has trended downward since then, closing at $2.28 on March 15, 2012.